North Korea has fired an unidentified ballistic missile containing a “super-large heavy warhead” capable of reaching the United States (U.S.).
The country’s state media made the announcement on Wednesday, hours after leader Kim Jong Un ordered the launch of the Hwasong-15 missile for 3 a.m.
State news agency KCNA called it “the most powerful ICBM” and that it “meets the goal of the completion of the rocket weaponry system development set by the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)”.
The missile was launched from Sain Ni, near the capital of Pyongyang, spending 53 minutes in the air while soaring approximately 4,500 kilometres in the sky before splashing into the Sea of Japan according to the Pentagon, landing inside Japan’s Economic Exclusion Zone.
North Korean state television ran a special broadcast on the launch
The missile flew 965 kilometres in a high trajectory, but would have a range of 13,035 kilometres if it had flown in a flat trajectory.
It would make it capable of reaching Washington D.C.
The launch would be North Korea’s first since it fired a missile over Japan in mid-September.
U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis said the launch demonstrated North Korea was capable of hitting “everywhere in the world.”
He said the situation had become much tougher, with the test missile flying “higher, frankly, than any previous shot they have taken”.
“The bottom line is, it’s a continued effort to build a threat – a ballistic missile threat that endangers world peace, regional peace and certainly the United States,” he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters after the launch that the U.S. “will take care of it.”
“It is a situation that we will handle.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said earlier Mr Trump was briefed during the launch.
“@POTUS was briefed, while the missile was still in the air, on the situation in North Korea,” she tweeted.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson strongly condemned the launch and called for redoubled international pressure on Pyongyang, saying the U.S. “remains committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearisation.”
However, a North Korea official reiterated comments made to CNN in October that there would not be diplomacy until the country has proven its nuclear capabilities.
“Before we can engage in diplomacy with the Trump administration, we want to send a clear message that the DPRK has a reliable defensive and offensive capability to counter any aggression from the United States,” the official said.